Showing posts with label Cornelius Vanderbilt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cornelius Vanderbilt. Show all posts

Mar 9, 2010

National Potato Chip Day

Yep, March 14 every year marks the day we celebrate the thin and crispy snack, the potato chip.

Potatoes were originally cultivated in South America, probably in Bolivia, Chile, and Peru. More than 400 years ago, the Inca Indians in those countries grew potatoes in their mountain valleys.

During the Alaskan Klondike gold rush, (1897-1898) potatoes were so valued for their vitamin C content that miners traded gold for potatoes.

Potato Chips were first made in 1853 while Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt was on vacation in Saratoga Springs, New York.  At one restaurant, he kept sending his fried potatoes back to the kitchen because he said they were "too thick".  The chef, George Crum, decided that he would cut them into paper-thin slices, boil them in oil, fry them, and salt them as a joke to the Commodore.  It backfired.  They became an instant success and the restaurant was well known for them.

It was the invention of the mechanical potato peeler in the 1920s that paved the way for potato chips to soar from a small specialty item to a top-selling snack food. For several decades after their creation, potato chips were largely a Northern dinner dish. I can still make a dinner of nothing but chips.

Of course, I am partial to Detroit's Better Made Potato Chips. Detroiters eat an average of 7 pounds of chips per year, vs. 4 pounds in the rest of the country  Better Made has even been sending chips to our troops in Iraq.

Chip facts - Chips are available in other countries, and are also called crisps and Saratoga chips. Potato chips have become America's favorite snack, and  US retail sales of potato chip are over $6 billion and 1.2 billion pounds a year. The thickness of an ordinary potato chip is 55/1000 of an inch. Ridged chips are 4 times thicker, 210/1000 of an inch. 50.4% of US potatoes come from Idaho. The potato was the first vegetable to be grown in space.

For those who have been wondering, yes, there are bacon potato chips. Who's Your Daddy makes handmade bacon potato chips. They are available on the web and in selected stores around San Francisco.